To mark both Black History Month and World Mental Health Day this year, our Ethnicity, Religion and Culture focus group had the privilege of hosting a webinar in conjunction with psychotherapist, Nathaniel Oke PgDip. Varsha Chandrasegaran, Diversity Champion and member of the ERC focus group summarises the event here.
Held on 10 October every year, World Mental Health Day is an opportunity for communities across the globe to unite to raise awareness and speak openly about mental health issues.
This year, at Stewarts, we had the privilege of hosting Nathaniel, who shared his thoughts and views about the intersection between mental health and black identities to lawyers and staff in a virtual setting.
Intersectionality of mental health and gender identities
The current focus of Nathaniel’s work is on the mental health challenges faced by Black people. During the webinar, Nathaniel took us through interesting discussion points around mental health and Black identities. He provided his insightful views into how companies can improve the mental wellbeing of their staff and provided examples of workspace practices that demonstrated an inclusive approach.
Nathaniel began the webinar by emphasizing the importance of ensuring there are Mental Health First Aiders in place in every organisation. Individuals need a safe space to talk and feel comfortable enough to have a difficult conversation. Nathaniel, noting the essential role of a wellbeing network, recognised that as individuals we need to belong to a group that sees us, understands us, and connects with us. As human beings, we thrive on human connections.
Nathaniel highlighted the inherent identity differences between Black communities themselves. At Stewarts for example, people identify as Black British, Black African and Black African Caribbean within the same Black community. It is important to understand the cultural nuances that come from people of different backgrounds.
During the webinar, Nathaniel also highlighted the consequences of the external environment on mental health. For example, throughout history the UK government has implemented policies that were targeted towards illegal immigrants but spilled over and had a more wider reaching effect, as we saw with the Windrush generation. Nathaniel flagged how such factors affect people’s wellbeing and how we can process that better in the workplace.
Men’s mental health
Nathaniel’s dedication to fostering a positive change in mental health led him to join the ‘Everyman’ project in 2009. For 13 years, Nathaniel made it his mission to guide men in comprehending and curtailing violent and abusive behaviours. In commemoration of International Men’s Day, he even appeared before the Houses of Parliament to address prevalent men’s mental health issues.
During the webinar with Stewarts, Nathaniel spoke about the socioeconomic factors that influence men’s mental health struggles. Men can be expected to display certain characteristics such as bravery and resilience, often hearing harmful phrases like “man up”, which has resulted in silent suffering. These societal expectations can result in mental pressure and anguish.
Nathaniel highlighted the importance of recognising the challenges that men face when it comes to mental health and the effects of the pressure placed on them.
Nathaniel Oke PgDip
Nathaniel is a seasoned psychotherapist and a member of the British Association of Counselling Psychotherapy for over 15 years. An agent of transformative healing, Nathaniel has been an instrumental part of projects such as ‘Thought Feeder’. His work has empowered many young individuals to nurture their creativity and create positive change.
In 2017, Nathaniel founded Talking Therapy Clinic, a private practice specialising in one-on-one counselling, couples therapy, and psychotherapy, catering to individuals of all ages grappling with profound mental and emotional health challenges.
Having been featured in prominent publications and digital platforms such as Cosmopolitan and Instagram live shows, Nathaniel continues to inspire and empower individuals and organisations alike. His mantra “By helping one, I help all” echoes through Nathaniel’s unwavering longstanding commitment to mental health.
You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our Diversity and Equality pages.
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